A DELICATELY WOVEN STORY
This novel presents a delicately woven story of love, living together, separation, and ultimate reconciliation through marriage. Many male-female couples these days live together, and bear and raise children outside matrimony, often because of their reluctance to commit themselves to the responsibilities of family. The lure of their career goals becomes deadly and they choose to live an ungodly life, in spite of their deep love for humanity, friendship, etc.
PREDICAMENT? INDECISION? OR RELUCTANCE?
Linda Nichols presents the predicament of a man who chooses his career, and a lovely woman who desires him to be a husband to her and a father to their child. Lenore wants Daniel to marry him, and she knows that he loves her deeply. She also knows that he loves their child. Daniel, however, is unable to choose her and their child over his professional ambitions. Or was it simply indecision and reluctance?
DEFT HANDLING, AVOIDING CONDEMNATION
The story is told without any condemnation, or justification, or bitterness. The narrative is full of descriptions of the exterior to reveal the interior landscape of Lenore and Daniel. It is a lengthy novel that covers a period of 15 years, years of separation, longing, pining, seeking God, and finally repentance and reconciliation. Lenore comes out of this story as a woman of sterling character with hope and expectation.
The story neatly skips the pre-matrimonial episodes, except for some references here and there. The story is told in a kind of flash back. The prologue is actually the beginning of the end of the story. The last two chapters (chapters 57 and 58), each running to only two pages, brings in the beautiful picture of re-joining and rejoicing.
THE ROLE OF AND DESIRE FOR MARRIAGE
The theme, in a manner of speaking, is about marriage or the lack of it, but the novel itself does not describe any wedding. Marriage is viewed more as a state of bliss, peace and reconciliation between man and woman loving one another deeply, and desiring each other's company. Linda Nichols deftly skirts other complex issues, and we are carried away by the inner ruminations of the characters.
"He (Daniel) had a sudden realization of the years that had passed. Years. Long years, and Lenore had lived them, just as he had. Her years had been full of people he didn't know, experiences he hadn't shared. What had he thought? That she would be where he had left her? Still waiting? That time had somehow rendered her as frozen and unchanged as she'd remained in his mind? What right did he have to come here now, even for this brief errand? Who did he think he was to appear like this? Apologetic. Shredded life in hand" (p. 9).
The story goes back to the past when it all began:
"She sat down on the bed beside him and covered her face with hands. It would be so simple, really, for him to say, "Of course I want to marry you. You're the mother of my child, aren't you? You're the one I've lived with all these years, aren't you? You're the one I come home to every night, who knows what kind of socks I like and that I sleep on my back and that I like grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup when I'm sick. Of course I'll marry you. And even if he couldn't say that he loved her in quite that open-souled, end-of-the-world way she had always loved him, just to say he loved her would be enough. Maybe it wouldn't have been enough an hour ago, but it would be now. Anything to put a stitch into that gaping wound. Say it, she willed. Say "Of course I'll marry you."
"But he didn't say it. "Don't go," his only words." (p. 17)
"Sylvia (Daniel's agent) tipped her head, probably calculating how much pressure to bear. "Then why the hesitation?" she asked. "I thought you would jump at the chance to work again. And this is not some bit part. It's a major role in a picture that's going to be a hit. Everything Kyle touches turns to gold. You're lucky he's asked for you." (p. 407).
"Look," Sylvia said, obviously lobbing a Hail Mary from the twenty-yard line. "Take some time. Think about it." Her voice had a pleading quality. "Be reasonable. If you turn down this opportunity, that's it for your career, and then what have you gained?"
"What have you gained?" she had asked. "What have you gained?" and the words Al had quoted to him came back in full force. "What shall it profit a man," Al had asked, "if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"
He set down in his napkin and stood up, almost colliding with the waiter who was delivering their meals. "I don't need to think about it," he said. "I know what I need to do" (p. 408).
"Every light was on, but something else made his heart thump. In every window was one of those electric candles. Glowing and warm. He flung himself out of the truck, opened the gate of the picket fence, and stepped through, not bothering to close it behind him. A dark shape moved in front of the window, and then the front door opened, light and welcome spilling out, and Lenore was running toward him, flinging herself at him, and Daniel wasn't sure which of them was laughing and which was crying. The rain pelted down on them. He held her and was amazed again at how right it felt, like two halves of something finally back together again" (p. 409).
READ IT, ENJOY IT, AND PONDER THE IMPLICATIONS
This outline does not do justice to the varied experiences the reader is given while reading this interesting novel. Read it, enjoy it, and ponder the implications.
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